A Lesson to Pass On: Reasons for Getting the Shingles Vaccine

I never received the vaccine for shingles, Zostavax.  But I am one of the unfortunate seniors who developed shingles a few years ago.  Fortunately mine wasn’t an awful case, but it was still uncomfortable enough to make me wish I had spoken with my internist about my options to be vaccinated before it was too late.

The vaccine is recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for all adults aged 60 and older.  There are some exceptions, such as those with compromised immune systems, so always check with your primary physician first.  When a person receives Zostavax, the likelihood of developing shingles is reduced by 51%.  Also, the vaccine reduces your risk of developing nerve-related pain by 67% if you do develop this ailment.

Anyone who has had chickenpox has a chance of developing shingles.  The varicella zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, always remains dormant in the nerves of our bodies.  There is a 1 in 3 chance adults who have experienced a case of chickenpox will develop shingles.  Shingles commonly starts out as a rash, and can often develop into painful blisters on the skin.  Sometimes the outbreak is severe enough to cause nerve pain (neuralgia) along the area of the blisters.  Anyone who has suffered from nerve pain can tell you what a misery it is to live with.

The Zostavax vaccine is covered by Medicare Part D, with the amount of your co-pay varying depending upon where you receive the vaccine.  In the event you are without Medicare Part D or other private insurance, contact the manufacturer of the vaccine, Merck, as the company offers assistance in many cases.  You may find this information at www.merck.com.  Click on “Patient Assistance” for more details.  Should you prefer to call the company’s Patient Assistance Program, their number is 800-727-5400.

Don’t make the same mistake I did.  Be proactive and speak with your doctor now about receiving the shingles vaccine.  Your body will thank you.

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